Monday, March 23, 2015

Fort Union, Capulin, Lathrop State Park

Got a knock on the door and there were a couple of people standing there. They had just gotten into the park, were walking around and saw my Jayco Precept. Turns out they have the same model and year as me. Also turns out that they bought it from the same place I did – Hilltop Trailers. They were from Rochester though. Bob wanted to talk about all the issues that he was having with his unit and I was more than happy to chitchat about that and my problems also. Turns out that my problems are no where near as bad as his. He has problems with slides and jacks plus a few other things. Mostly totally different problems though. He did give me a few hints and reminded me of a few things that I need to put on my list when I get back to Minnesota and take the rig into Hilltop for service. It was fun talking to them. They were only on the road for three weeks or so and then heading back.

Got up early, big day today – I am actually going to start traveling again. I'm heading north to Denver, but it will take me a few days to get there because there are a few stops along the way that I want to make.

Drove about an hour and a half and stopped at Fort Union National Monument. This was rather an interesting fort in that it was actually a small city back in it's heyday. Fort Union had the good fortune to be right on the Santa Fe Trail. So, it became a city of 5 – 7,000 people because of all of the traffic coming through as people were moving west. It was also a military fort, it was responsible for supplying supplies to all the other forts within a 500 mile radius. It had a world renown hospital that not only treated the military forces but also civilians. If you were a civilian and required a hospital stay, it would cost you fifty cents a day. My, how times have changed.

Of course after 150 years, there is nothing but ruins, but you can see the outlines of the various buildings. Miko and I wandered around, reading all the info boards, making sure we watched out for rattlesnakes. The rangers made a big deal about warning us about the snakes – it is getting warm and they are starting to come out. We did not see any snakes, just lots of grasshoppers. My dog is a premier grasshopper hound and loves to catch them.

Officer's Quarters


Back in the RV, heading north. Next stop is Capulin Volcano. We are spending the night at Capulin RV Park in Capulin New Mexico before I go see the volcano. The people that run this place are hard core Christians. We are the only people in the park. It is a little disconcerting – bible verses everyplace. There are also signs that on almost every wall that say that we are under Video Surveillance and Keep Out. Not a real comfortable place. But out my front window I see the volcano which is three miles away. So that is a positive.

The volcano is only three miles away but they don't allow dogs. I go watch the movie at the ranger station (cause I love watching the movies). I asked the ranger why Capulin was a National Monument because New Mexico is full of volcanoes. In fact, New Mexico has the most volcanoes of any state in the lower 48. She said it was because this particular volcano is almost perfectly preserved. It hasn't eroded and is still in it's original cone shape. Capulin rises 1300 feet above the floor of the valley and is at 8,182 feet above sea level. The road up to the top of the volcano is very narrow and hugs the side of the volcano. One side of the road (coming down) is up against the rock wall and the other side (going up) is right next to nothing. I was glad I did not meet anybody coming down because I was pretty much going up on the wrong side of the road.

Once you get to the top of the volcano, there is a parking lot and you have a decision to make. You can walk 250 feet down into the center of the volcano or you can walk 350 feet up and walk around the rim of the volcano. I decided to go up because I had heard the views were really wonderful. When they said 350 feet up, they meant it was a straight 350 up. No switchbacks or anything to ease the pain. But I did it and I even passed some young whippersnappers who were struggling. There was nothing to stop the wind up there, at times you really had to plant yourself otherwise it would blow you off the path. The scenery of the valley was very other-worldly – it sort of looked like a moonscape.

The Road Up


After my little volcano adventure, we packed up and headed out of the Christian RV Park. We drove north and crossed the border into Colorado. I specifically took the freeway because I was worried about mountain driving and Colorado did not disappoint. Well, at least in the very beginning when I crossed the border. Up, up, up – the RV got down to about 45 miles an hour so I put on my flashers like all the big time truckers do to warn others that I was a hazard. Then it was a long 6% grade down into a valley. After that, there were really no more mountains, just mostly smaller hills.

I reached Lathrop State Park. After weeks and weeks of being cooped up in claustrophobic RV parks, I was finally back in a state park. Joy. Granted I did not have any of the perks of RV parks such as WIFI and water hookups but I had scenery. And trails. I pull into a perfect site with a beautiful view out my front window.

Hiking up Hogback ridge behind the campground

Did you know it is spring break in Colorado. Five different pop up campers each complete with four or five kids show up and surround my site – they are all spending spring break in “my” campground. My,my, children are loud, bless their hearts.

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